If you are interested in modern art, Ascona is the place for you. For example, the Museo Comunale d’Arte Moderna – the historical museum of Ascona, founded in 1922 – and the new Museo Castello San Materno, opened in 2014, are two very popular museums. For a reasonable price, you get art of the highest quality. The art is modern, diverse and interesting. The Municipal Museum of Modern Art in Ascona is located in a beautiful 16th century building on Via Borgo. It houses the permanent exhibition of the municipality and is the seat of two foundations: the Marianne Werefkin Foundation and the Richard and Uli Seewald Foundation. The municipality’s collection of paintings began in 1922, when many of Ascona’s resident artists decided to donate one of their works as the basis for a future municipal museum.
Among the most important works in the art collection are The Girl’s Head by Alexei Jawlensky, The Fruit Harvest by Cuno Amiet and The Red House by Paul Klee, which were donated by the Russian painter Marianne Werefkin along with five of her works.
In the following years, the collection continued to grow. Strongly represented is the artists’ association “Der Große Bär,” which Werefkin founded in 1924 together with the Germans Walter Helbig and Otto Niemeyer-Holstein, the Swiss Albert Kohler and Ernst Frick, the Dutch Otto van Rees, and the American Gordon Mallet McCouch. Also of importance are the plaster works of Marcel Jank, the paintings of Arthur Segal (fresco painter of the lunettes in the cemetery of Ascona), the abstract oil painting of César Domela, the watercolor of Hermann Hesse.
Recent acquisitions include works by Jules Bissier, Ben Nicholson, Italo Valenti, a tempera by Marino Marini, a colorful head by Hermann Haller and the important funds of Carl Weidemeyer and Charlotte Bara. Carl Weidemeyer, artist and architect of the Bauhaus school, settled in Ticino in the early 1920s and represented an extraordinary blend of Central European and Mediterranean culture. Charlotte Bara, the world-famous expressive dancer, was the owner of the San Materno Theater in Ascona, built by Carl Weidemeyer in 1928.
The collection of the Marianne Werefkin Foundation, with about 90 paintings and 170 sketchbooks, is the heart of the museum and by far the largest collection of this extraordinary artist, a key figure of the avant-garde associated with the Blue Rider. The museum also houses the Richard and Uli Seewald Foundation, which includes works by the artist Richard Seewald, professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and a deceased member of the Great Bear, as well as a rarely seen Utrillo, a Klee, a wonderful drawing by Franz Marc and a watercolor by Kubin.